Happy Black Friday!  I'm throwing a 20% off sale today in my TpT store!! :)

My friends Fern and Michelle recently came up with a new idea.  Each week, they are going to make one of their normally priced packets free for one day.  This is a way of showing a little appreciation to their followers who have loyally followed their blogs.  As an added bonus, each week they invite a different blogger friend to join them.  Luckily for me, they asked me to join in this week!  Woohoo! 

Click HERE to download your freebie.

Just a reminder:  You will not be able to leave feedback after I change it back to a paid for lesson. 

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

I was under the weather this weekend, but it did give me some time to finish up some things that I've been working on lately!  I'm usually a pretty slow creator because I get side tracked and I'm sure picky about how my units look.  Those two things combined do not equal efficiency!  But lately I've been dwindling down my "Unfinished Products" folder.

I got my Analog and Digital Schedule Cards finally posted.  I've been using them since the beginning of the year and was able to tweak them a bit to make them perfect!

I also finally finished the 2nd grade version of my Learning Targets unit.  I updated everything, then expanded the unit to include sample I Can statements, standards checklists for your planning, and also labels for organizing all your resources.  I started using the labels last year and I love how easy they make my planning!

I also updated the fonts on my Turkey Talk Graphic Organizers and added one more G.O.  If you own those, make sure to go re-download.

To top off all this work, I finally finished my Math Problem Solving posters and worksheets! 

When I taught 3rd grade a couple years ago, I had to get my students ready to take the Oregon state test.  I knew a lot of the math test would involve them solving story problems and choosing the correct multiple choice letter.  

To get my students ready for that, we had to practice story problems - A LOT!  We started out by focusing on what the question was actually asking.  Some questions throw in too much information and trip kids up.  My team used this 4 step problem solving method: 1. Find Out (what is the question asking) 2. Strategy (what problem solving strategy will you use to answer the question?) 3. Solve (show your work) and 4. Verify (solve it another way to ensure your are correct).  We liked this method because the kids would fold their scrap papers into fourths and could do this method during the test on their own.  

This is what it looked like:

I really like this method.  In the "Find Out" box, we could also write or underline those key words that tell us which operation it will be.  I made The Teacher Wife's giant plus and minus signs and also made some division and multiplication ones to match.  We used these everyday while we found out what the problem was asking.  

Then on to "Pick a Strategy".  This is the box that I always struggled with.  And I still struggle with it 2 years later!  I know that a strategy is making a graph or drawing a picture, but how do you get the kids to understand those strategies when your math curriculum doesn't teach or foster those skills?  I struggled.  Struuuuhhhhh-ggled. We would end up writing which operation we were going to do and call it a day.  

That is why I made these posters.  I knew what the strategies were, but I wanted an easy way for my students to know what they are.  My posters include 9 strategies in both color and black and white (true blackline that will copy well on colored paper for you).  On each poster is the strategy, a picture, a sample problem, and a description of the strategy.  I wanted something common for me to say while teaching and for the kids to refer back to.  As I teach each strategy, we are adding these to our math wall.

Next is "Solve", I taught the kids they can show their thinking in words, numbers, or pictures.   I have this poster up on my whiteboard:

Last, on "Verify" we either use an inverse operation, plug the answer into the problem to see if it's right (guess and check), or solve it using a different operational strategy (for example, if you counted on, try making ten this time to see if you get the same answer).  I didn't include Guess and Check in the strategy posters because I do not want this to be a student's go-to strategy.  It's great to help verify, but I want them to use math to solve it in the first place.  

This is what the sheets in my pack look like:

I included one with "Plan" instead of "Strategy" because I know some teachers like the kids to make a list of things they will do to get the solution.  I also included small pages that can be cut and glued in an interactive notebook (that's what my class does).

What this pack does not include is the actual problems.  I did that on purpose, because there are so many amazing options out there!  My math curriculum has a Problem a Day (although, not all of them are that good).  I know that Lakeshore has Problem Solving Cards, along with other teacher stores.  You could write these on the board or project them with a document camera.
Click to see this on Amazon
My favorites to use are Corinna Gandara's from Surfin Through Second.  She has some for each month that correlate with 2nd grade standards.  Click the picture below to see her December word problems, or go here to see her November ones.  

And now for your FREEBIE! (I didn't forget!)  Today I made a Fan Freebie on my FB page!  Click over to FB, like my page, click on the teal "Fan Freebie" button just under my Cover Photo, and download from Google Drive!  

What unfinished projects have you completed lately?
Last year, I posted an adorable video of my son using the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener.  You can go see that here.

All my students love using that pencil sharpener, but every time there is a new parent helper or a sub, they just can't figure it out.  Adults, I tell ya ;)

So, I made this simple poster with pictures and directions on how to use it.  Click the picture and you can download from Google Drive.  I took these pictures last spring, before I painted all my bookshelves black.  So sorry about all that peeling paint.  Yuck!

And here is my new pink sharpener in my pencil area! <3

Pencil cans are Welches frozen grape juice containers covered with contact paper.  I need to cover that Almond Roca can with colored pencils, too!  I don't remember where the "No Picky Pencils" sign is from, so if you know, please tell me!

What's your favorite pencil sharpener?

At the beginning of last year, I moved into a classroom that had seen many teachers come and go.  It was apparent to me that no one had really called this classroom home, as there was a mish-mash of stuff everywhere.  Being a pretty neat and tidy person, I set to work on decluttering and getting rid of old materials before the school year began.  As I started to go, I realized what a huge project I was beginning.  I found health curriculum from the 1970's, writing resources from the 1980's, and worksheets that were blue and smeared from an old ditto machine.

During the first month of school, I stayed late a couple nights to organize the filing cabinet, just to do an initial purge.  I bought metal frames and hanging file folders to organize everything into.  I separated the materials into drawers of math, language arts, science/social studies/art/health, and the last drawer for behavior management and monthly files.

Then as I went through the year, I realized that I was not using the files that were already in the cabinet because I wasn't really sure what was in there.  And I was adding a lot of resources that I made and bought from TpT.  I decided to organize it all by standard.

Here is the math drawer:

Each standard gets a file folder.  I put the standard number on the tab and the standard itself on the front of the folder.  Inside each folder are my I Can statements (I use the ones from Surfin Through Second), worksheets, and centers that correlate with each standard.  I keep all my centers in plastic page protectors and label them like Katie from Teacher to the Core does.  When I saw her post, I thought it was genius!    

Now when I go to teach a specific standard, I just pull the folder and choose which materials I want to use.  I think it will really help me this year with planning.  It also helps me see which standards I don't have a lot of materials for and need to stock up on at TpT!

If you are interested in the 2nd grade common core labels, you can find them in my updated 2nd grade Learning Targets pack!

How do you organize your files?

I'm joining Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

Last week we started our nocturnal animals unit by Surfin Through Second:

We learned about bats and used bits of Erica's Bat unit and Reagan's Stellaluna unit.

We read a Reading A-Z book about bats, gathered facts, and learned how to write an informational essay.
We then painted and made Reagan's Bat Facts.  I hung them outside our classroom and all the kids loved reading them during recess!
And after a busy week, I deserved this on my Friday evening! :)
I'm linking up with Jennifer over at Teaching With Grace to share pictures of what my classroom REALLY looks like!  When I take pictures of my products or fun things we are doing, I often tidy up first.  But, as you know, a messy classroom means that children are learning!

Here is my document cart: document camera, elmo, speakers, iPod chargers, locking safe for iPods and iPad, then various teaching supplies in the plastic containers.

Here is my carpet area.  Closet slightly open, Dr. Pepper on the ground, markers and books shoved in pockets, new CAFE strategy not hung on the wall yet.

Here is my teacher corner.  Piles of copies to be made, masters to be filed, work to be graded, coffee and Shakeology to drink, scarf I had to take off because it got too hot!

What does your classroom really look like?

I'm linking up with Denise for My Truth Monday.

This week she's asking about how we became teachers.  Did we always know?  Did something change? Here's mine:
So, I guess I've always known!  Of course there are days that I fantasize about having a job that isn't so hard or that pays more money.  But honestly, I don't think I could ever leave education!  It's my passion and my life.  I love it!

What about you?  How did you decide to become a teacher?